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Deaths of 20-month-old twins left in hot car for 9 hours ruled accidental

"This family needs prayer, their life will never be the same," the county sheriff said on Tuesday.
/ Source: TODAY

The deaths of two young children who were left in a hot car for an entire day in Richland County, South Carolina have been ruled an accident.

The 20-month-old twins died from hyperthermia — when body temperatures are extremely elevated — the local coroner, Naida Rutherford confirmed to TODAY on Tuesday. The findings match her initial statement made earlier this month, but had to wait on toxicology reports to make it official.

police lights illuminate a black parked SUV outside a low-rise brick building with yellow crime tape
The scene outside a daycare center in Blythewood, South Carolina, where two young twins were discovered dead inside their parents' vehicle.WIS

The twins were identified as Bryson and Brayden McDaniel.

In a press conference at the time of the boys' deaths, Rutherford said the two were discovered by one of their parents at the day care center where they were enrolled in Blythewood, a suburb of Columbia.

On Tuesday, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott confirmed there would be no charges filed. He said the boys' father thought he took the children to the daycare that morning where they were enrolled and then drove to work. He found the boys in their rear-facing child seats just after 5:30 p.m. after he drove to the day care center to pick them up.

Lott said that the man had been dealing with work-related issues and that the deaths were a "horrible, horrible, tragic accident."

A black SUV sits on a tow truck at nighttime
Rutherford said in a press conference last week that one of the twins' parents discovered the children in the backseat and that a window was broken during the attempted rescue.WIS

"The father was under some intense pressure at work that really had his mind somewhere else that day," Lott said. "And in his mind, he really believed that he had dropped the two boys off at day care. There was no doubt in his mind that he had done that."

Police declined to name the father, only saying he works at a manufacturing plant in the same county.

"There were some things going on at work, not your normal work activities, just some things that were going on that he was dealing with at work. That contributed to it," Lott said, adding that speaking with the father had been "heart-wrenching."

"The pure emotion that came out was not something that you could fake," he said. "This family needs prayer, their life will never be the same."

"Nothing's going to replace these two boys. Nothing's going to take away the pain this family is going to feel."

Rutherford told TODAY she hopes other parents will be vigilant about checking the backseat before going to work.

“We hope that this is an example for parents to just pay attention when they get out of the car to make sure that they actually drop off their children,” she said.